Getting to Know Your Customers

There are three distinct types of family travellers. We know them by name, but now it’s time to know them by behaviour and attitude. Thanks to research conducted by the Family Travel Association and the NYU School of Professional Studies, we can get a pretty clear picture about who’s walking in the doors of various destinations and attractions around the country.

Cautious Travellers

The Cautious Travelers are families who value travel and often put great effort into researching and planning family trips. They are attracted by many different travel products and destinations. However, they tend to stick to trips that are traditionally seen as ‘family friendly,’ such as theme parks and family-friendly hotels and resorts, because these products are regarded as ‘safe bets.’ Their travel decisions are greatly influenced by worry and uncertainty: they worry about safety, hygiene, whether a destination offers value for the money, whether a child will get sick, and whether activities are appropriate for children. They believe more strongly in the value of travel for children and would consider taking their children out of school, but they are generally too worried about all the uncertainties associated with travel to go far off the beaten track.

* More likely to worry about safety
* Tend to prefer theme parks, hotels, and resorts
* More likely to find it hard to identify activities appropriate for children
* Like trying new places, but also return to destinations they enjoy
* Feel that travel strengthens family bonds and makes children better global citizens
* Still may travel to experience different cultures
* More likely to take children out of school to travel

In particular, cautious travellers have concerns about:
* affordability and value—travel is a considerable expense for families and they want to make sure they make the right choices
* safety of children in crowded places
* maintaining healthy diets on vacation, as well as worries about food allergies
* providing children with experiences that are iconic (e.g. famous theme parks)
* children being bored – many express preferences for destinations that offer a lot of on-site activities (e.g. entertainment, pools)

Hassle-free travellers

happy mother and son riding in travel bus
The Hassle-Free Travelers are families who see travel as a time for relaxation and indulgence. They seek comfort and do not want to spend much time planning the trip. Just like the Cautious Travelers, they are attracted to theme parks and family-friendly hotels/all-inclusive resorts, but their motivations are different: whereas the Cautious Travelers worry about safety and value, and tend to research travel options carefully, the Hassle-Free Travelers look for options that allow the whole family to effortlessly relax.

Hassle-Free Travelers are more likely to visit off-the-beaten-path destinations; however, they are likely to stay in all-inclusive resorts or take organized tours, as opposed to the Intrepid Travelers. Hassle-Free Travelers are more likely to prefer staying at home instead of traveling. They also tend to place greater value on material possessions than travel experiences.

* More likely to prefer cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and organized tours
* Least likely to take children out of school to travel
* More likely to think travel with children is a hassle
* More likely to return to the same destination
* Still place value on the educational value of travel
* More likely to place more value on material possessions
* More likely to stay at home during vacations

Intrepid Travellers

Girls riding Camel in Fuerteventura desert at Canary Islands of Spain

The Intrepid Travelers are families that greatly value travel and are confident, independent, and often experienced travelers. They emphasize their interest in exploring new cultures, are likely to travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations, and often express disinterest in all- inclusive and packaged products. They have an interest in many different travel products and accommodation options, although the majority prefer hotel stays. Just like the Cautious Travelers, they are more likely to take their children out of school to travel.

* Tend to prefer new destinations every time they travel
* Tend to travel to experience different cultures
* Tend to worry less about safety
* More likely to travel to unusual destinations
* More likely to take children out of school to travel
* Tend to value travel over material possessions

Knowing the types of families that come to your venue or attraction hopefully gives you added insight into the things they place importance on. Once you know the bigger picture of what these families are looking for, you are hopefully able to better deliver an experience that exceeds their expectations.